Abortion Lawmakers Can't Count

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's simple math, really:

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (Reuters) - South Dakota's state senate voted on Wednesday for an abortion ban aimed at giving the conservative-tilting Supreme Court an opening to overturn rulings granting women the right to the procedure.

Only an unlikely veto by Republican Gov. Michael Rounds could prevent the legislation from becoming law, people on both sides of the issue said.

"We hope (Rounds) recognizes this for what it is: a political tool and not about the health and safety of the women of South Dakota," said Kate Looby of Planned Parenthood, which operates the sole clinic providing abortions in South Dakota.

"If he chooses to sign it, we will be filing a lawsuit in short order to block it," she said after attending the afternoon debate at the state capitol in Pierre.

Proponents have said the law was designed for just such a court challenge.

The timing is right, supporters say, given the recent appointments of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito to the high court. The two conservatives could pave the way to a decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling said women have a constitutional right to abortion.
Let's review, shall we? The Supreme Court has nine members. It takes five to constitute a majority. Currently the justices whom we know will likely vote to overturn Roe are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Those in support of upholding the right to abortion are John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer.

Those who've yet to rule on the issue are newbies John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

To even begin the process of trying to threaten the legacy of Roe it would require both Roberts and Alito to side with the Court's most conservative members, but then the vote will still be 5-4 to uphold it.

It will still take another vacancy to significantly move the Court to the right. The likely justice to go next is John Paul Stevens. The guy is 86. Replace him with an anti-Roe vote, provided Scalia and Roberts will also be anti-Roe, and then you will see the end to abortion's constitutional protection.